Echoes: reverberations across millennia 23 July – 08 October 2022
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton SK17 6DA
Over the years I’ve become increasingly interested in archaeology, particularly standing stones with their carved decoration and symbols. This led to research into Neolithic and Bronze Age burial practices, due in part to my own experience of loss. I became intrigued by ceramic cinerary urns made by our ancestors to contain cremated remains and began to design and make crematorium or funerary urns, not as copies, but contemporary interpretations with great respect for the past.
In the Autumn of 2018 I submitted a proposal to Buxton Museum and Art Gallery entitled Echoes: reverberations across millennia. Through design, concept and materials the aim was to show a connection between Neolithic and modern-day practices of honouring the dead.
At the end of 2018 I was delighted to receive an offer to exhibit my work in the summer of 2020. And then came Covid! The Museum was closed to the public leaving me unsure whether my exhibition would go ahead. Fortunately, it wasn’t cancelled, only postponed until the summer of 2022.
Inspiration for the decoration of a crematorium urn comes from the study of patterns and symbols used at that time. I began by making tiles to test patterns using tools that would have been available in Neolithic times such as pointed sticks, Antler shards and bone. The designs on the entrance stone at Newgrange, the Neolithic passage grave in Ireland, captivate me, particularly the spiral, the natural form of growth and symbol of everlasting life which I use as my maker’s mark.
Newgrange was built to align with the sunrise at the winter solstice when sunlight floods the passage and illuminates the interior, a suggestion of conception and subsequent re-birth, an echo of the past reverberating even now.
The Long Barrow in Wiltshire is similarly aligned. This contemporary, spiritual monument, completed in 2014, was constructed in a similar way to Newgrange, albeit using modern day equipment. Inside, branching from either side of a central passageway, are chambers with niches for the placement of crematorium urns. Some of my urns now rest in this barrow, a place where people come together to share memories and celebrate the life of a loved one.